Globetrotting Kiwi adventurers again travel vast distances to challenge the world’s best dirt biking talent this season.
The latest squad to venture off-shore is the Wellard New Zealand Yamaha Club Team to tackle the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Finland next week (from August 8-13).
The three-rider team comprises Taranaki’s Adrian Smith and Auckland cousins Karl and Chris Power, with Palmerston North’s Adam Reeves, the national cross-country champion, travelling as reserve rider.
The same men came together to form the Wellard Yamaha New Zealand Club Team to race the ISDE when it was staged in Mexico last season.
The team excelled in Mexico, finishing a close runner-up in their class and Smith says their sights are set bettering that.
The 25-year-old Mokau region farmer won individual gold last year and also has three ISDE silver medal performances to his credit, with this year’s campaign his fifth attempt.
Both Chris and Karl Power are also vastly experienced international campaigners, Karl having performed with distinction at the recent Australian Four-Day Enduro and Chris having raced a Yamaha WR450 to a second consecutive win at the iconic Swan Insurance 24-Hour Reliability Trial just last month.
But Northern Europe is the new focus for the intrepid racers.
“Well, here we are again, 2011 and another ISDE – this time in Europe!” said Chris (Yamaha YZ450F).
“Finland will be my third ISDE, having ridden Taupo in 2006 and Mexico last year. The good news though is that I will have a week to acclimatise to Finland, unlike in 2010 in Mexico where I had one day!
“I’ve never been to Europe before either, so this will not only be an awesome riding experience, but a special life experience as well. I don’t know a lot about Finland but I have been cluing myself up with some short phrases that will hopefully help us get around a little easier.
“I just hope I don’t mispronounce words and ask if someone is pregnant!
“In preparation for the terrain, I have been doing quite a bit of sand riding, as there is meant to be some soft terrain out there, mixed in with rocks. I had plenty of rock training when I raced the 24 Hour Enduro.
“Another positive is that I’m riding a YZ450F this year, a bike I’m much more suited to than the little 250. The fuel injection will also play a huge part to with the bike always running crisp and responsive.”
As his cousin Karl (Yamaha YZ450F) points out “it’s not often we get to travel to the other side of the world and do what we enjoy doing the most, racing motorbikes”.
He said the 2011 ISDE had been on his mind literally since he got off the bike on the final day in Mexico last year.
“Having the privilege to race this event has given me more than enough motivation to work as hard as I can to be in the best shape, produce the fastest speed and be in the right mind-set to compete in Finland.
“The lead-up to the ISDE has been good for me. Everything has been aligning in the right spots.
“For me, it is all about the build-up and, by the time we race, all the hard work will be done and all we have to do is enjoy the company of the team and have fun while racing and I believe that the team will shine like we did in Mexico.”
The third team member, Smith (Yamaha YZ250F), is also thrilled to be back as part of the Wellard Yamaha NZ team.
“Wellard have decided that a once-in-a-lifetime trip can come round twice. I’ve been training hard and hoping to better my results from Mexico. I’m really excited to be a part of this top team again.”
The ISDE is regarded as the “Olympic Games of the enduro world” and attracts hundreds of riders from every corner of the planet.
New Zealand riders have more often than not been at the sharp end of the competition and this year’s contingent is determined to continue that tradition.
© Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com